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Lack of empathy in dd and how to address it

(26 Posts)
foxinsocks Wed 24-May-06 20:36:43

Dd (age 5) is one of the youngest in her year (yr1) - she's also my eldest child. She's been having a hard time at school lately (has a hearing problem) - the teacher says she is fine but she has been miserable. Also, another parent rather cheekily, mentioned to me (while talking about children in our class) that she thought dd could be very nasty. I didn't have a chance to respond because she disappeared (otherwise I would have had a word with her) but she (the mother) is renowned for being a gossip and for getting her eldest child (in juniors) to spy on dd's class (which her ds is in) at breaktime.

Over the last week or so (since her revelation) I've been watching dd with her friends and she seems to be incredibly defensive with them e.g. X will say 'look at my nice shell' and dd will say 'I have one bigger than that' - not in a show off voice but as if she is trying to impress X. Y will say 'what a lovely coat' and she will preen but say nothing back. I had a chat with her about it and told her it was nice to say nice things back to people but she told me 'her brain didn't work that way'.

She does 'feel' for other children e.g. she told me she got a treat because she came top in spelling but if she was a teacher she would give treats to those who came last so they felt better but she seems to get overwhelmed with all her friends and tries to impress them (who are largely at the elder end of the class).

Does this make her sound like a nasty child or can I do anything to help her understand that she doesn't need to impress them just because they are older than her?

foxinsocks Wed 24-May-06 20:37:51

oops sorry for the essay

Twiglett Wed 24-May-06 20:39:28

she sounds lovely and totally normal for a 5 year old if you ask me

gotta go out now though .. will reply later

I wouldn't worry she's only 5 .. empathy doesn't develop properly till 7 or 8 I believe

Angeliz Wed 24-May-06 20:40:38

Well her comment about giving the traets to those who came last shows great empathy. Bless!

The other Mum, sounds nasty tbh. My dd is 5 and she is so melodramatic, as are all her friends.
Your dd does sound a bit competetive but that's about it from your description, not nasty at all, infact very sweet. Very funny comment about her brain not working that way.

foxinsocks Wed 24-May-06 20:43:02

oh thanks...that makes me feel so much better. She really is a sweet little thing but I think she can come across badly sometimes but she really doesn't mean it in a nasty way.

bubble99 Wed 24-May-06 20:44:46

Foxy. She sounds lovely! It may be the hormones, but I have a tear in my eye about her wanting the treat to go to someone who came last.

All I can say is that children are so competitive (sp? Doesn't look right to me). I listen to my DS1 and 2's friends and they bullshit for England. Example - new film comes out, DS2 (aged 6, just) tells his mate that he's going to see it at the weekend - answer "I've seen it five times already"!

All normal and I blame the parents, especially in the area where you and I live, eh??!

suzi2 Wed 24-May-06 20:46:10

If she would give the treats to those that came last to make them feel better then I think that shows she has some consideration and empathy for others. The trying to impress the older kids and other girls is normal. She's trying to be accepted by them. Perhaps she is aware that her hearing problem makes her 'different' from others. Let her accept these compliments etc - all too soon in life people are trying to shoot you down at every opportunity. If these friends are building her confidence then that's a good thing at her age IMO.

I think that it would be worth 'investigating' why the other mum would say she was nasty though. Either just to find out if there was an incident that you don't know about or just to know that the other mum is making up stories!

Angeliz Wed 24-May-06 20:47:33

Funnily enough i was thinking the same about my dd1 this morning. I dropped her at School and had dd2 (15 months) with me. Now dd1 is the sweetest loving child and adores her sister but when she sees her friends it's like she has to show off. It is like hse has to prove dd2 is HERS and she gets all hyper and silly (never like this at home). Ended up me telling her off as she yanked dd2's head down for a kiss! Sigh!
I was thinking all morning that i hope the other Mums realise that she's just excited!

They are strange aren't they. I comfort myslef with the knowledge that all her friends are the same. Gorgeous, unpredictable and all have their moments of strpooyness. It's the Mums (like you mentioned) who just see a tiny part and judge that annoy me.

Angeliz Wed 24-May-06 20:48:29

(was thinking the same as in her coming across badly. I type slooooowwwww)

Yummymum1 Wed 24-May-06 20:48:52

Foxinsocks,your dd sounds like my ds.He is also 5 and always has to be better than everyone else.I too have worried about this and he also has shown total lack of empathy or understanding of anyone else.However,this 3rd term at school seems to be making him a nicer person and much better at socialising.That mum sounds like someone i know whos children are always marvellous,lovely the best etc and no one else ever matches up!I find they are best ignored and taken with a pinch of salt!

brimfull Wed 24-May-06 20:49:10

I agree she sounds competitive.My 3 yr old has this in spades,maybe it's something that will change as she matures ,she is the youngest.
Sounds quite normal really.
Total bitch comment from the other mum.

foxinsocks Wed 24-May-06 20:50:24

thanks bubble - yes that is very true about the competitiveness.

The whole conversation with this other mum had started because all the children are in groups which are clearly done on ability. I have not interrogated dd about who is in which group etc. but it turns out that this mother (and a few others) had. Turns out that dd is in the group which appears to be the 'top' group along with around 6 or 7 children - one of whom is this woman's ds and of those other 6, 3 have incredibly competitive parents. In fact one of the 'competitive parent' children told me that dd was only so clever and in the top group because I had done reading with her before she started school (and this must have come straight from the mother because I doubt a 6 yr old would think that!!).

foxinsocks Wed 24-May-06 20:52:31

thanks everyone

the weird thing is she isn't competitive when it comes to her school work (she really couldn't care less) but she is when it comes to making friends and being friends with people. I think she spends 99% of her school day worrying about who she will play with and the other 1% about what she will have for lunch.

bubble99 Wed 24-May-06 20:58:46

TBH, as you've rightly noticed, most of the bitchy/nasty comments uttered by children are obviously straight from the mouths of their competitive/insecure/freaky parents. I have recently seen a very bright 6 year old (nature or nurture? Who cares?) treated appallingly by jealous parents via her peers. It stinks and I think we should learn lessons from the rest of Europe and ban reading/writing/'rithmatic in any formal sense until they're 7. We lag behingd the rest of Europe and the USA once they hit 16, anyway,

Sorry, off topic a bit there.

Elibean Wed 24-May-06 22:11:54

Foxinsocks, if your dd has been feeling miserable recently, at school, whether its to do with her hearing problem or not, might she be feeling a bit insecure in relation to her peers - hence the competitiveness? She does sound normal and lovely, I suppose my only thought was to try and look behind the competitiveness and see if there was some way of helping her feel 'bigger' inside - IYSWIM. Sorry, very tired and heading to bed - hope that makes sense!
She certainly doesn't sound nasty...

foxinsocks Wed 24-May-06 22:15:56

thanks bub - I know exactly what you mean.

How's your new place? Are you all settled in?

foxinsocks Wed 24-May-06 22:17:59

yes elibean, that makes perfect sense. I think she does feel very insecure - and the more I think about it, I wonder if this is all stemming from her feeling self conscious about her hearing problems . She has to ask people to repeat things and often misses bits of conversations if people all talk at once and I know she finds it very frustrating.

Orlando Wed 24-May-06 22:23:58

Loathe, loathe, loathe this Olympic sport of Catching Other People's Kids Out. It's foolowed mu eldest dd from reception to yr 6, and the other day I was gobsmacked to be told by another mother of some snub my dd had allegedly done to her dd while she was giving her a lift home. When I asked dd about it she gave me a perfectly logical and utterly obvious explanation and I realised it was only spitefulness on the part of the other mother to have interpreted it so badly.

Sorry, don't mean to do a hi-jack rant but it struck me that some mothers are so keen to promote the interests of their own that they willfully don't see the good in anyone else's kids. None of them spring from the womb fully formed, with adult perceptions of politeness and social grace. They're all learning-- and practising on each other-- all the time. As parents we have a duty to help, support, guide and be generous to all of them. Not just our own.

foxinsocks Wed 24-May-06 22:29:17

'None of them spring from the womb fully formed, with adult perceptions of politeness and social grace' - that is so true, if only all parents thought like that!

bubble99 Wed 24-May-06 22:31:08

All settled in, apart from the boxes, foxy.

They're forming interesting centrepieces in most rooms at the moment.

KristinaM Wed 24-May-06 22:36:48

foxinsocks - your DD sounds just like mine, youngest in the year, hearing probelms, being in the top group and only caring about playing. That makes me think that....they are both totally normal and this other mother is mixing it

foxinsocks Thu 25-May-06 09:49:57

thanks kristina and everyone for your comments. I had a long chat to dd this morning about school and her friends. I do think her social skills leave a bit to be desired but she has always been a bit behind in that area (can see already that ds, my second child, is better on the social front!). She would be mortified to think that she ever upset anyone and still to this day, if ds ever gets a punishment (like being sent to his room or not allowed his football stickers), she will burst into tears because she feels so sad for him.

I think the problem is that she feels in competition with all the other children for her friends' attention and desperately wants to be part of the in gang so does all this showing off behaviour. She's much better on a one to one situation so perhaps I'll just encourage her a bit more when we have playdates and hope with the passage of time, her social skills will start to improve!

Yummymum1 Thu 25-May-06 13:42:07

Foxinsocks,I really feel for your dd and all our children when they first start school.THey have so much to learn and to cope with and i think that sometimes we dont appreciate that as to us social graces are second nature(or to most of us anyway,not counting thosebitchy mums who are obviously insecure themselves!!)They are learning how to fit in,behave at school,leaving us for ALL day,not to mention the academic stuff!Some children find it easy,others take longer but they all get there in the end.Your ds is fine!

Elibean Thu 25-May-06 14:01:37

Foxy, well done on the chat with dd...I think your 1-1 play plan is spot on. I used to work with HOH and Deaf people, and can imagine only too well how kids can get left out of conversations: the social whirls of the playground are just so darn fast. One thing I've seen work really well for kids with hearing problems' self-confidence is an older child (with good self-esteem and also with hearing difficulties) who a) understands and b) has some tips on coping. Might not be possible or necessary right now, and she might be a bit young even, but just wanted to mention this in case it ever seemed helpful - its amazing how empowering kids find older kids!! I seem to remember there are even organizations that run kids' mentoring programs, and fun days etc on this basis. If you want to find out more, let me know - I'll try and track down some links.
Sorry if this is way OTT, just ignore if so! I'm sure you being aware of how she's feeling will help a lot anyway.

foxinsocks Thu 25-May-06 16:16:44

thanks for that. I'm hoping that once she has her op her hearing will be sorted (fingers crossed).

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